N.35 Auger dis­cov­ery

Meit­ner sub­mit­ted the dis­cov­ery of the Auger process to the Zeitschrift für Physik, a ma­jor jour­nal, on Jan 8 1922 and it ap­peared in the Nov 1/Dec is­sue that year. The process is clearly de­scribed. Auger’s first de­scrip­tion ap­peared in the July 16 1923 Séance of the Comptes Ren­dus of the Acad­emy of Sci­ences in France (in French). There is no record of Meit­ner hav­ing apol­o­gized to Auger for not hav­ing waited with pub­li­ca­tion even though a male physi­cist was clearly likely to fig­ure it out sooner or later.

It is gen­er­ally claimed that Meit­ner should have shared the No­bel prize with Hahn for the dis­cov­ery of nu­clear fis­sion. One rea­son given is that it was Meit­ner who found the ex­pla­na­tion of what was go­ing on and coined the phrase fis­sion. Meit­ner also did much of the ini­tial ex­per­i­men­tal work with Hahn that led to the dis­cov­ery. For­tu­nately, Meit­ner was Jew­ish and had to flee Hitler’s Ger­many in 1938. That made it much eas­ier for Hahn to shove her out of the way and re­ceive all the credit, rather than hav­ing to share it with some woman.